Park Wavelengths - February 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
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February 25, 2009
Bright Venus is appearing low in the sky each evening soon to disappear from our viewing over the Olema Valley to return as the morning star in a month or so. March's full moon on March 11th brings some low daylight afternoon tides:
Spring is sliding in with daffodils blazing a yellow streak across the old bulb farm near the Hostel. These hardy survivors date from the period between World War II and park creation in 1962 when a commercial bulb farm operated in this area. Visitors may pick 6 flowers per day for personal use. Lot's of yellow throughout the seashore—blossoms on the California Bay tree and the exotic Acacia trees also offering dabs of color in the winter gray.
The annual seal protection measures go into place this Sunday, March 1st as harbor seal pupping season begins. Drakes Estero closes to boating and South Blue Gums Beach on Tomales Bay close from March 1st through June 30 to allow seals to come ashore and deliver their pups in peace. The season is off to an early start with the first pup born at Double Point last week. Elephant seal numbers continue to drop as the season winds down.
Trail crews are completing preliminary work clearing brush to repair the Kelham Beach Trail; they hope to have it repaired and open by fall 2009.
February 13, 2009
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February 10, 2009
The new moon rises February 24th and the tides resume less extreme differences, gone are those 7 foot high tides until July. Venus is the bright star in the evening as you travel west down Sir Francis Drake into Olema Valley, it appears in the sky. Traditionally, in this early spring time, first Californians were very hungry waiting for the first Checkerbloom, Red maids and soaproot to bloom and indicate the roots were tender enough to eat.
No word on salmon counts as of this writing. Once the sediment settles down after the rains, researchers hope to get out and look for fish along Olema Creek this week.
Northern Elephant seal populations in the park peaked at 1320 animals last week; numerous observations were made of breeding and wrestling in the colony this weekend. One female was observed nursing three pups instead of the usual one; hope she heads to Hawaii soon for a little R&R. A pup tagged at Point Reyes last year was observed on Vancouver Island in Washington in apparent good health; typically males leave for Alaska and females for Hawaii once the breeding season is over in late February. Whale sightings continue the February lull, none reported over the damp weekend.
New wildflowers blooming at Chimney Rock are Douglas Iris tiny violets, low along the trail as well as Chocolate Lilies. Marin County Open Space Rangers will be leading a walk from 10:00 pm to 2:00 am on February 19 to find early species; meet at the parking lot at Chimney Rock.
All park visitor centers will be open Monday, Presidents Holiday Weekend and if the weather is fair, Sir Francis Drake Highway will be closed at South Beach and shuttles operated.
Did You Know?
Elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris)are the largest pinniped with males reaching a maximum of about 5,000 lbs. Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) are much smaller with both males and females reaching a maximum weight of around 250 lbs. More...